5 Sales Lessons from Donald Trump

PoliticianDonald Trump, love him or hate him, has captured the attention of the nation. While Mr. Trump’s empire has had booms and busts, he has always proven himself to be a master salesman. His campaign has benefited from his sales prowess; but it has also raised questions about his intentions with this campaign. In my mind, voting is a decision to buy a candidate’s vision. Below are some lessons to consider about that “buying/selling” experience:

Establish an emotion connection upfront: Much of the country is frustrated with the slow economic growth and weakening institutions. It has left many feeling angry and isolated from the elected leadership. Mr. Trump’s brash and angry comments about Washington have formed a strong bond with the disaffected that allows extreme behavior with little repercussion. People buy from those that “get them.”

Don’t belittle your competition: In the sales world, attempts to grow your perceived value by diminishing your competition can be catastrophic. Mr. Trump’s insistence on calling his rivals weak and incompetent defies sales logic. Although the media reaction has prompted Mr. Trump to focus on his value and compose some position papers, the lesson here is whether Mr. Trump experiences consequences.

Is your target market big enough? To win the GOP nomination, Mr. Trump will need to attract the supporters of the “weak and incompetent.” To win the election, Mr. Trump will need to gain support from the minorities he has disparaged and dismissed. Sales logic suggests you always chase the broadest audience possible. An exit early next year will suggest that this logic holds.

Can you deliver? Nothing destroys the reputation of a company or a sales person more completely than failing to deliver on your promises. Emotions guide the beginning of the buying process, but usually logic prevails at the end. Mr. Trump has been a fountain of innovation and ideas. And as Mr. Trump would say, “Some of them are good.” Mr. Trump has discounted the legislators whose cooperation he will need to implement his ideas.. While this suggests a bumpy road for Mr. Trump, I concede that the electorate can be very naïve in answering this question about candidates.

It’s always about the customer, not you: Wise salespeople understand that effective sales is about understanding their customers’ needs and allowing customers to discover how a proposed solution can satisfy those needs. I often wish we had more wise politicians. When a salesperson or politician starts telling their customer what they are going to do for them, people often tune out. Mr. Trump has been doing a lot of telling and I wonder if the electorate will decide if he is acting in their interest.

It takes a lot of courage to run for President and I respect Mr. Trump for his effort. The campaign is played out where everyone can see. The salesperson’s campaign is viewed only by their prospects and customers. While it may seem I am picking on Mr. Trump, the real point here is that countless sales people fail these lessons every day. Please contact me if you want to discuss further.

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